alt.memetics bibliography

Latest update: March 19, 2002

Additions are still welcome. Also, there is lots of room in this directory for valuable information (excerpts, abstracts, annotations, etc.) to be hyperlinked to the bibliography.
Mail to David McFadzean.

These fine persons helped compose the list so far.

Alexander, R.D. (1979) "Darwinism and Human Affairs" (Seattle, University of Washington Press)

Alexander, R.D. (1987) "The Biology of Moral Systems" (New York, Aldine de Gruyter)

Altenberg, L. (1984) "A Generalization of Theory on the Evolution of Modifier Genes" (PhD thesis Stanford University, available from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, MI)

A model of the cultural evolution of memes that control the transmission of other memes, with the result that in a population near equilibrium for cultural traits that affect individual survival, memes for traditionalism (i.e. faithful transmission of other memes) will prevail.

Åm, O. (1995) "The Origins of Knowledge" (expected later this year)

A book concerning the evolution and anatomy of knowledge. In developing a biological and social theory of knowledge we shall visit many disciplines ranging from a theory of Power, Systems theory, Complexity and Gestalt Psychology. As the book proceeds a philosophy called Perspectivism will slowly come to life by parasiting on the different topics that we visit. (project description)

Arnopoulos, P. (1993) "Sociophysics: A General Theory of Natural and Cultural Systems" (Nova Science Publishers)

Sociophysics is constructed within the conceptual framework of a Systems Unification Model which bases the political, economic, and cultural sectors of human society upon the physical, chemical and biological aspects of nature.

Axelrod, R. (1984) "The Evolution of Cooperation" (Basic Books)

Starts with the results of a computer competition of programs to play each other at the Prisoners Dillema. The winning program was by far the simplest, and involved simply doing what the other player did the previous turn, and starting of with trust. Expounds on this as a philosophy (i.e The Golden Rule). Excellent example of computer behavior providing a terrific insight into humanity.

Ball, J. (1984) "Memes as replicators" in: Ethology and Sociobiology; 1984 Vol 5(3) 145-161

Several well-known genetic phenomena (e.g., birth, death, sexual selection) are translated into memetic language.

Bartley, W.W. "The Retreat to Commitment" (2nd edition, Open Court)

At first glance this book seems to be a history of Protestant philosophy in the last 150 years, but it turns out to be the book that set evolutionary epistemology on its feet. The first edition came out in 1962, some fourteen years before Dawkins published "The Selfish Gene".

Blackmore, S. "The Meme Machine" (Oxford University Press)

In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins proposed the concept of the meme as a unit of culture, spread by imitation. Now Dawkins himself says of Susan Blackmore: Showing greater courage and intellectual chutzpah than I have ever aspired to, she deploys her memetic forces in a brave--do not think foolhardy until you have read it--assault on the deepest questions of all: What is a self? What am I? Where am I? ... Any theory deserves to be given its best shot, and that is what Susan Blackmore has given the theory of the meme.

Bonner, J.T. "The Evolution of Culture in Animals" (Princeton University Press)

Examples of memes in the animal world are most bird songs, and certain techniques for hunting or using tools that are passed from parents or the social group to the youngsters.

Boyd, R. and P.J. Richerson (1985) "Culture and the Evolutionary Process" (Chicago University Press)

Brodie, R. (1993) "Getting past OK: A Straightforward Guide to Having a Fantastic Life" (Integral Press)

Chapter entitled "Nature, Nurture, and Culture" discusses memes, their possible origins, and their effect on people's behavior.

Brodie, R. (1995) "Virus of the Mind" Integral Press (Now Available!)

Devirusing yourself and your children. Read the review review then check out Richard's Meme Central.

Brown, J.C. and W. Greenhood (1983) "Paternity, Jokes and Song: A Possible Evolutionary Scenario for the Origin of Language and Mind" in: Cultural Futures Research; 1983-84, 8, 2, winter

A three-component model of human evolution: coevolutionary interaction between genes, memes, and ideons is capable of explaining many puzzling features of human history and character.

Burroughs, W.S. "The Ticket that Exploded" (fiction)

Burroughs posits among other things that words are like organisms infecting the brain - 'the other half is the word, the other half is an organism, word is organism' - or some such.

Campbell, D.T. (1974) "Evolutionary Epistemology" in: "The Philosophy of Karl Popper", P.A. Schilpp (ed.), (Open Court Publish., La Salle, Ill.), p. 413-463.

Cavalli-Sforza, L.L., and M.W. Feldman (1981) "Cultural Transmission and Evolution: a quantitative approach" (Princeton University Press)

Churchland, P.M. (1989) "A Neurocomputational Perspective" (MIT Press)

Discusses the latest neural-net based models of brain function and their application to philosophy. Many fruitful ideas about the brain-representation of memes can be obtained from this book.

Clark, S.R.L. (1993) "Minds, Memes and Rhetoric" in: Inquiry, March 1993, vol 36 nr 1/2

Dennett's "Consciousness Explained" presents, but does not demonstrate, a fully naturalized account of consciousnesss that manages to leave out the very consciousness he purports to explain. If he were correct, realism and methodological individualism would collapse, as would the very enterprise of giving reasons. The metaphors he deploys actually testify to the power of metaphoric imagination that can no more be identified with the metaphors it creates that mind can be identified with memes. That latter equation, of mind with meme-complexes rests for its meaning on the existence of real minds, which are not to be equated with the thought they have. Part of a symposium on Dennett's "Consciousness Explained".

Claeys, L. (1995) "Behavior of Information"

Unpublished manuscript (on-line)

Cloak, F.T. (1975) "Is a cultural ethology possible" in: Human Ecology 3:161-182.

Clynes, M. "Sentics"

Emotional communication embedded in musical 'shapes', which have their analogs in the visual arts, etc.

Cosmides, L. and J. Tooby (1989) "Evolutionary psychology and the Generation of Culture, Part I" in: Ethology and Sociobiology 10: 29-49.

Cosmides, L. and J. Tooby (1991) "From evolution to adaptations to behavior: Toward an integrated evolutionary psychology." in: R. Wong (ed.) "Biological Perspectives on Motivated and Cognitive Activities" (Ablex Press)

Costall, A. (1991) "The 'Meme' Meme" in: Cultural Dynamics, 1991 vol 4 nr 3

Tracing the meme meme back to Darwin, the author finds himself, as it were on the other side. Instead of finding that cultural evolution is like biological evolution, Costall proposes the reverse: that biological evolution behaves like cultural evolution. Intentionality is seen as the link between social and biological theory.

Csanyi, V. (1991) "Evolutionary Systems and Society: a general theory" (Duke University Press, Durham, NC)

Csikszentmihalyi, M. "The Evolution of Self"

Discusses memes in the context of possibilities for the evolution of humanity.

Darwin, C. (1859) "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" (Murray, London)

Dawkins, R. (1976) "The Selfish Gene" (Oxford University Press)

Evolution of social behavior. Last chapter introduces the 'meme' concept as smallest unit in cultural evolution, analogous to genes in biological evolution.

Dawkins, R. (1989) "The Selfish Gene" (2nd edition)

Two additional chapters on memetics.

Dawkins, R. (1982) "The Extended Phenotype" (Oxford University Press)

Innovative ideas on (genetic) evolution. Discussion of replicators in general.

Dawkins, R. (1993a) "The 'Awe' Factor" in: Skeptical Inquirer, spring 1993, vol 17 nr 3

Dawkins, R. (1993b) "Viruses of the Mind" in: Free Inquiry, summer 1993, vol 13 nr 3


Delius, J.D. (1990) "On the Natural History of Culture: Gene and Meme" (text in german) in: Zeitschrift für Semiotik; 1990, 12, 4, 307-321.

Parallels between biological and cultural evolution are cited. The pressures and variety of the selection process inside the brain are set in the context of events in an increasingly complex social milieu.

Dennett, D.C. (1990) "Memes and the Exploitation of Imagination" in: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, v. 48 Spring '90

Championing the meme as a unit of cultural evolution advantageous to itself, Dennett corrects most of the basic misunderstandings of memetic theory found in facile pop sociobiology and cultural philosophy. According to this view, memes co-evolve as a protective and continuous network/infosphere, as integral to our phenotypes, as anything biologically pre-ordained.

Dennett, D.C. (1991) "Consciousness Explained" (Little, Brown and Co., Boston)

Multiple Drafts Model of human consciousness. Discusses the role of memes in the evolution of consciousness. (annotations)

Dennett, D.C. (1995) "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" (Simon & Schuster, expected later this year)

This new book will contain a larger section on memes than appeared in "Consciousness Explained".

Drexler, K.E. (1990) "Engines of Creation"

Nanotechnology. Drexler discusses memes as examples of replicators. Emphasizes the dangers of memes infecting future nanocomputers.

Durham, W.H. (1991) "Coevolution: Genes, Culture, and Human Diversity" (Stanford University Press)

Edgerton, R.B. (1992) "Sick Societies: Challenging the Myth of Primitive Harmony" (New York, Free Press)

Eisler, R. (1988) "The Chalice and the Blade" (Harper San Francisco)

An overview of the archaeological work of Marija Gimbutas and others. It explains the macro-history of human culture, and shows how domination, patriarchy, and war are culturally programmed, rather than biologically innate.
Eisler doesn't seem familiar with the term 'meme', but her work may be the world's most important in applied memetics, in the direction of stimulating people's immune surveillance regarding the 'Dominator Culture' meme collection.

Findlay, C.S. (1992) "Phenotypic evolution under gene-culture transmission in structured populations." in: J. Theor. Biol. 156:387-400.

Findlay C.S., Hansell R.I.C. and C.J. Lumsden (1989a) "Behavioural evolution and biocultural games: oblique and horizontal cultural transmission." in: J. Theor. Biol. 137: 245-269.

Findlay C.S., Lumsden C.J. and R.I.C. Hansell (1989b) "Behavioural evolution and biocultural games: verticle cultural transmission." in: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86: 568-572.

Gazzaniga, M.S. (1985) "The Social Brain" (Basic Books)

Split brain research, inference-making, belief formation, religion.

Godwin, M. (1994) "Meme, Counter-meme" in: WIRED magazine, october 1994. vol. 2.10 ; page 85

Mike Godwin expounds on the craft of counter-memetics. (on-line)

Graves, P. (1991) "The Persistence of Memory: Dynamics of Sociocultural Evolution" in: Cultural Dynamics; 1991, 4, 3, 290-320.

If social or cultural evolution and biological evolution are to be compared, it is not by reducing the former to the output of a monolithic mechanism of memetic selection, but rather, by recognizing that biological evolution must be viewed as a structurally complex process taking place on a multiplicity of mutually constraining levels.

Guthery, S.B. (1994) "EchoNets, E-memes, and Extended Realities" in: Dr. Dobb's Journal, April 1994, pp. 72-84.


Hale-Evans, R. (1995) "Memetics: A Systems Metabiology"

(preview version)

Henson, H.K. "Memes, Metamemes and Politics"


Henson, H.K. (1987) "Memetics: The Science of Information Viruses" in: Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August 1987; reprinted in: Whole Earth Review, 22 December 1987, Winter; reprinted in: "Signal: A Whole Earth Catalog, Communication Tools for the Information Age", ed. Kevin Kelly (Harmony Books, 1988)

Gives an idea of future world-wide applications of memetics theory.

Henson, H.K. and A. Lucas "Cryonics, religions and memetics: A Theoretical Understanding"


Heylighen, F. "'Selfish' Memes and the Evolution of Cooperation"

Some basic selection criteria for memes are listed, with an emphasis on the difference between memetic and genetic fitness, and the issue of memetic units is discussed. (on-line)

Hofstadter, D.R. (1983) "On Viral Sentences and Self-Replicating Structures" in: Scientific American, vol. 248, January 1983; reprinted in: "Metamagical Themas" (Basic Books, 1985)

Explains the meme concept. Defines some terminology.

Hull, D.L. (1982) "The naked meme" in: Plotkin, H.C. (ed.) "Learning Development and culture, essays in evolutionary epistemology" (John Wiley & Sons)

(info), also see Ruse (1989)

Kitcher, P. (1985) "Vaulting ambition: sociobiology and the quest for human nature" (MIT Press, Cambridge)

Laland, K.N. (1990) "A theoretical investigation of the role of social transmission in evolution." in: Ethology and Sociobiology 13: 87-113.

Laland, K.N. (1994) "Sexual selection with a culturally transmitted mating preference." in: Theor. Pop. Biol. 45: 1-15.

Lateiner, J.S. (1992) "Of Man, Mind, and Machine"


Lefebvre, L. (1988) "L'Imitation a l'origine de la culture" in: Anthropologie et Sociétés 12(3): 93-107.

Lumsden, C.J. and E.O. Wilson (1981) "Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process" (Harvard University Press)

Introduces the 'culturgen' as basic unit of inheritance in cultural evolution, colonizing the mind. Profound mathematical treatment of gene-culture coevolution. Interesting biogeographical analogy. The principles of epigenesis.

Lynch, A.B. (1991) "Thought Contagion as Abstract Evolution" in: Journal of Ideas, Volume 2, number 1 (January, 1991), pages 3-10.

This article develops a philosophy of science for memetic evolution and symbolic representations of memetic events. It also presents a mathematical analysis of a hypothetical two-meme evolutionary system with simultaneous modes of replication. Finally, the article relates the formation of new memes to the population memetics of existing memes.

Lynch, A.B. (1996) "Thought Contagion: How Belief Spreads Through Society: The New Science of Memes" (Now Available!)

This, after much delay, is the work that Douglas Hofstadter mentioned on page 66 of "Metamagical Themas". It catalogues numerous examples of memetic evolution in areas of family, sex, religion, health, and controversy. (table of contents)

MacDonald, K. (1991) "A perspective on darwinian psychology: the importance of domain-general mechanisms, plasticity, and individual differences" in: Ethology and Sociobiology 12: 449-480.

Minsky, M. (1985) "The Society of Mind" (Simon & Schuster)

Describes the mind as a collection of competing 'agents'.

Monod, J. (1971) "Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology"

Chapter entitled "The Kingdom and the Darkness" covers 'ideational' evolution in relation to the ethic of knowledge. (excerpt)

Moritz, E. (1990) "Memetic Science: I - General Introduction" in: Journal of Ideas, nr. 1, p. 1-23


Moritz, E. "MetaSystem Transitions, Memes, and Cybernetic Immortality"

to appear in a special issue of World Futures devoted to MetaSystem Transitions. (on-line)

Moritz, E. (1990) "Replicator Based Knowledge Representation and Spread Dynamics." in: Conference Proceedings - 1990 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics. pp. 256-259 (Held November 4-7, 1990 - Los Angeles California).

Murdock, G.P. and D.R. White (1980) "Standard cross-cultural sample" in: Barry III, H. and A. Schlegel (ed.) "Cross Cultural Samples and Codes" (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Palameta, B. and L. Lefebvre (1985) "The social transmission of a food-finding technique in pigeons: What is learned?" in: Anim. Behav. 33: 892-896.

Patterson, M.L. (1990) "Accelerating Innovation: A Dip into the Meme Pool" in: National Productivity Review, Fall 1990, vol.9 nr.4

Ideas about memes are applied to product development management. Strategies are explained and supported by constructing analogies between the innovation process and an informational assembly line, applying the theories of economist W. Edwards Deming. The richness of alternative solutions, is seen as a function of the size of the meme pool, and ultimately as an index to successfull and markeatable innovations.

Principia Cybernetica Project

A rich source of on-line articles on evolution, self-organization, etc., explained using the principles of meta-system transition. (home page)

Rada, R. (1991) "Computers and Gradualness: The Selfish Meme" in: AI & Society, july 1991, vol 5 nr 3

In making a contribution, a person's life gains meaning. A small contribution affects a few people for a short time, while a larger contribution affects many people for a long time. Within the framework of an abstract, computational world, a metric on contributions is defined. Simulation of the computational model shows the critical role of gradualness. Gradualness can be supported by human-computer systems in which the computer does the copying and arithmetic, and the human applies a rich understanding of the world. The role of gradualness in the research area of machine learning and hypertext is highlighted.

Radnitzky, G. and W.W. Bartley (1987) "Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge" (Open Court)

An anthology of the 'evolutionary epistemology' school of philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists. While none of these folks use the word 'meme', the whole book is about the evolution of ideas through blind variation and selective retention.

Rainy, M.E. (1989) "Samburu Ritual Symbolism: An Adaptive Interpretation of Pastoralist Traditions" in: Social Science Information; 1989, 28, 4, Dec, 785-819.

An examination of the cultural symbolism of the Samburu tribe of Kenya. Symbols and ritualized ideas act as signals capable of altering the behavior of signal recipients. Attention is given to the local environment and to symbols as evolutionary replicators.

Rancour Laferrière, D. (1979) "Speculations on the Origin of Visual Iconicity in Culture" in: Ars Semeiotica; 1979, 2, 2, 173-185.

Cultural and natural semiotic signs, or icons, are examined to differentiate their respective significance and means of survival and to determine their analogical features.

Rancour Laferrière, D. (1981) "Preliminary Remarks on Literary Memetics" in: Menges, K. and D. Rancour Laferrière (ed.) "AXIA: Davis, Symposium on Literary Evaluation" (Stuttgart : Akademischer)

Rezabek, H.M. "Autologue: Interdisciplinary Dialogue within the Global Network Environment"

How discourse on the net revolves around a memetic attractor, iterated and reiterated by the participants. (on-line)

Rheingold, Howard "Untranslatable Words" in: Whole Earth Review #57: 3-8.

Rogers, E.M. (1983) "Diffusion of Innovations" (Free Press, New York)

Ruse, M. (1989) "What the philosophy of biology is, essays dedicated to david Hull" (Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht)

In this book H.C. Plotkin and C.M. Heyes elaborate further on the ideas brought forward by David Hull and Boyd and Richerson (1985), using the word meme and the replicator-interactor-lineage sceme.

Rushkoff, D. (1994) "Media Virus"


Ruyle, E.E. (1973) "Genetic and cultural pools: some suggestions for a unified theory of biocultural evolution" in: Human Ecology 1:201-215.

Schrage, M. (1988) "Are Ideas Viruses of the Mind?" in: The Washington Post, October 30, 1988, final ed.


Shaker, P. (1982) "Applying the Sociobiological Synthesis to Education"

Shows how concepts of sociobiology are compatible with a number of theories already applied in education, such as those of Piaget, Kohlberg, Chomsky, and Jung.

Silverberg, R. and K. Haber? "Black Memes" (short science fiction story) in: Universe 3, ed. Silverberg and Haber

The described future society has something like an advanced version of the internet. To prevent memes from spreading, all information is deconstructed and analyzed for memetic content in realtime by AI's which censor any ambiguous thoughts that may have covert hooking properties.

Sperry, R. (1983) "Science and Moral Priority: Merging Mind, Brain and Human Values" (Blackwell)

Stephenson, N. "Snow Crash" (science fiction novel)

Explains the Sumerian concepts of ME, NUB-SHUB, meme, and lots of other interesting things.

Still, A. (1986) "The Biology of Science: An Essay on the Evolution of Representational Cognitivism" in: Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour; 1986, 16, 3, Oct

Applies memetics to Popper's filosophy of science. The meme of representational cognitivism is traced through history. Three survival mechanisms: Batesian mimicry, the theoretical shell, camouflage.

Tenn, W. "The Tenants" (science fiction story) in: "Of All Possible Worlds"

Tooby, J. and L. Cosmides (1989) "Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, Part II- case study: a Computational Theory of Social Exchange." in: Ethology and Sociobiology 10:50-79.

Turchin, V. (1977) "The Phenomenon of Science. A cybernetic theory of human evolution" (Columbia University Press, New York)

Metasystem transitions

Vajk, J.P. "Memetics: the nascent science of ideas and their transmission"


Wegener, Franz. Memetik. Der Krieg des neuen Replikators gegen den Menschen Gladbeck, Germany, KFVR - Kulturförderverein Ruhrgebiet, 2001 ISBN 3-931300-08-0; EUR 17,80 138 Seiten, 3 Abb., Sondergroßformat 22 x 17 cm

Wenegrat, B. (1990) "The Divine Archetype: The Sociobiology and Psychology of Religion" (Lexington Books)

Biological model of religion through 'innately probable strategies'. The strategic functions of religious belief. The origin of religious beliefs. Religion and Intellect. The image of god (archetypes).

Wilbur, S.P. (1994) "Running Down the Meme: Cyberpunk, alt.cyberpunk, and the Panic of '93"


Wilson, E.O. (1975) "Sociobiology: The New Synthesis" (Balknap Press, Cambridge)